BY NELSON A. KING
Associated Press / Christophe Ena U.S Deputy Secretary of State, John J.Sullivan.
The United States Department of State says senior leaders from 18 Caribbean countries are attending the two-day historic launching of the US-Caribbean Resilience Partnership Ministerial in Miami, Florida, which began yesterday.
The State Department said on Wednesday that Deputy Secretary of State, John J. Sullivan will host the launching of the two-day ministerial, “a new collaborative effort to build regional capacity to confront disaster response and promote resilience.”
“Leaders will discuss new opportunities for collaboration to enhance the region’s preparedness and response efforts,” the State Department said.
It said that Caribbean countries represented at the meeting are: Antigua and Barbuda; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Guyana; Grenada; Haiti; Jamaica; St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Lucia; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; and the Dutch islands of Aruba, Curacao, and Sint Maarten.
The Caribbean Emergency Disaster Management Agency and the Regional Security System will also attend, the State Department said.
It said senior officials from several US departments, agencies and offices will attend the event.
They include: Miami-based US Southern Command; the US Agency for International Development; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the Federal Aviation Administration; the Federal Communications Commission; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the Department of Energy; the Inter-American Foundation; and the US Geological Survey.
“Deputy Secretary Sullivan’s engagement with our Caribbean neighbors, with the support of a broad coalition of the US government, will reaffirm the United States’ strong commitment to the Caribbean,” the State Department said.
The launching of the US-Caribbean Resilience Partnership Ministerial comes on the heels of a meeting United States President Donald J. Trump held last month with a select group of Caribbean leaders at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
Trump met with five Caribbean leaders — the prime ministers of the Bahamas, Jamaica and St. Lucia, and the presidents of Haiti and the Dominican Republic — with Venezuela clearly dominating the discussions.
Trump promised new investments in the five Caribbean countries as a result of supporting Washington’s bid to oust Venezuela’s President Nicolas Madura.
The US Department of the Treasury said it was imposing new sanctions on the South American country purportedly in response to the kidnapping of a top aide of Venezuela’s Opposition Leader, Juan Guaidó, who Trump is determined to replace Maduro.
In the build-up last month’s meeting, the White House had announced that Trump was meeting with the select group of Caribbean leaders to “reaffirm” Washington’s “strong friendship with and commitment to these countries, and signal the importance of the Caribbean to the hemisphere.”
The White House statement had said that Trump “will discuss his vision for our diverse relationships in the Caribbean and the potential opportunities for energy investment.”
“The United States remains a good friend to the Caribbean and seeks to build on a proud legacy as the region’s partner of choice,” it said.
However, Trump began the meeting by announcing that he would be “discussing ways that we can be beneficial to you, and you can be beneficial to us.”
The select Caribbean leaders comprised Jamaica’s Andrew Holnes, Bahamas’s Hubert Minnis, St. Lucia’s Allen Chastanet, Haiti’s Jovenel Moise and Dominican Republic’s Danilo Medina.
Though the socio-political crisis in Venezuela dominated talks with Trump, Holness told reporters afterwards that “the message from this meeting is that the United States wants to encourage and promote stronger relationship with the region.
“It’s absolutely important that it’s not just talk, that there will be real investments,” he said. “We’re very happy with that message.
“We feel that that is a message that is long-in-coming, but we’re also satisfied that it’s not just a message,” the Jamaican prime minister added. “We’re satisfied that there will be instrumental action.”
The 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping has been divided on the Venezuela issue.
In January, Jamaica, Haiti, the Bahamas, Guyana and St. Lucia supported a resolution at the Organization of American States in not recognizing Maduro’s second five-year term. Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname voted against the measure.
St. Kitts-Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados and Belize abstained during the vote; while Grenada was not present.
Since then, there have been at least two more resolutions at the OAS on the Venezuela question in which CARICOM states remain divided.
In a statement that followed their teleconference in January, the regional leaders, nonetheless, had “reaffirmed their guiding principles of non-interference and non-intervention in the affairs of states, respect for sovereignty, adherence to the rule of law, and respect for human rights and democracy.
“Heads of Government reiterated that the long-standing political crisis, which has been exacerbated by recent events, can only be resolved peacefully through meaningful dialogue and diplomacy,” the statement said, noting that they have “offered their good offices to facilitate dialogue among all parties to resolve the deepening crisis”.
In late January, regional leaders – led by Harris and including Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley and Rowley – met with United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, expressing optimism that the UN will assist in establishing the roadmap towards peace and security for Venezuela.